The Women’s World Cup Final was both an entertaining game and a bust. The Women’s World Cup as a whole shows the great leaps being made by women’s sport both in Australia and abroad. Fans are demanding equality…. Where it suits them.
The Matildas had a wonderful campaign in Canada. They progressed further than any Australian team has at a World Cup and gave a new generation of heroes to young football fans across Australia, and more importantly gave female footballers a look at what they can achieve.
After the final yesterday Social Media became flooded with posts talking about the need for more women’s sport on television and I couldn’t agree more. What I don’t agree with is the push for equality when the equality is convenient for you. If you want equality you want it across the board or you don’t want it at all.
MEN’S AND WOMEN’S SPORT MUST HAVE EQUAL TELEVISION RIGHTS AND VIEWERSHIP. That’s nice, even though it isn’t true. The demand isn’t the same, so the money won’t be the same and the exposure won’t be the same. Which brings me to my main point.
You love equality? How much of the Cerebral Palsy World Championships did you watch from England? They were on at the same time. After all you want all sport to be recognised, yes?
The last twelve months have seen some fantastic coverage for the Pararoos, however it was for all the wrong reasons after funding was cut. At times it looked like there would be no more Paralympic Football in Australia, a huge loss not only for those who aspire to be Pararoos but for those who use football as a form of physical therapy (yes, that’s a real thing).
The Pararoos headed to England with their sights set on qualifying for the Rio 2016 Paralympics, which would have been their first games since Sydney 200o should they have qualified. They returned home the eleventh best team in the world, unfortunately missing on on Paralympic qualification in the process.
On numbers alone from their last World Cup performance the Pararoos finished slightly lower than the Matildas and well above the Socceroos, yet most people wouldn’t be able to name one player in the team.
Eleventh for a team who a year ago had their funding cut. I’m not asking for FTA coverage as I know it’s unrealistic. You could watch every game of the CP World Championships live on YouTube. Why weren’t the FFA promoting the life out of this? I’ll never know. Across the board Women’s sport gets centre stage 1-2 twice a year. Do I think that enough? Of course it isn’t. Paralympians get once every four years, and the winter athletes get treated like more of a novelty than the summer athletes. Tell me again how female athletes are the most marginalised in this country?
Sadly there is only so much space in the media (although the space is expanding). That space goes to the sports and athletes that are going to generate the most revenue and interest (in that order). Women’s and Disability sport will do neither of those things as well as Men’s sport will. The solution? Make noise. Go to games, get on Social Media, annoy all of your friends to watch, write about what you’re seeing. If there isn’t a market and you think it exists, make it happen. Just don’t talk about equality for what suits you. Make it happen for everyone.
There isn’t an athlete at any level who doesn’t deserve to have the spotlight of the world shining on them. The fact of the matter remains that the world isn’t big enough yet, so the light can’t be as bright as we’d all like.